Orange Scones

Another day, another recipe I mess up! This was my first time making scones, and after having my sister nag me for weeks to make some, I caved. I scoured the internet and several cookbooks, in search for a recipe that seemed doable for me. Looking for recipes is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There are tons of recipes for the same thing, but there is always that one that is exactly what you’re looking for. It usually takes me a couple of days to find the ‘perfect’ recipe. Besides the obvious Google searches, I love going on Foodgawker for visual inspiration. I mean, everyone eats with their eyes first, right? The pictures on Foodgawker are absolutely gorgeous, which helps me make a quicker decision.


Anyway, I didn’t find this recipe on there. This recipe is from a cookbook I found at my local library. The book, America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts by Ron Douglas, was sitting on the shelf and I borrowed it on a whim. This scone recipe was the very last recipe in the book. I almost gave up on looking for the scone recipe, until I got to the last page. I read the ingredients and the rest of the recipe and decided to move forward. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and made a couple of substitutions and got to work.

Now, my family is full of picky eaters. My mom and dad won’t touch anything that’s relatively pale, or anything that isn’t ‘plain.’ This means I can’t make anything too adventurous or exotic. The most I can do is basically a coconut pound cake or a yellow layer cake without any filling or icing. They are notorious for declining any dessert that is relatively over the top or covered in anything creamy. Their pickiness is one of the main reasons I barely bake (but am now changing that and teaching them how to try everything). My sister is pretty picky as well, but sometimes not by choice. She is lactose intolerant and is now allergic to tree nuts. This actually cuts my recipe selections by a lot. Most awesome recipes have nuts or some kind of cream on or in them. I sometimes feel like a mom with her because I always check labels to make sure there aren’t any nuts or milk in anything we eat. I can work around the dairy problem just fine but the nut thing is kind of hard.


Being my parent’s daughter, she didn’t want anything in the scones other than the orange flavor. The original recipe calls for dried fruit, such as cranberries or currants. I left them out because I aim to please. I also didn’t have the orange blossom water the recipe called for, so I squeezed some orange juice in there instead. When I was mixing the batter, I noticed it was a little too wet. This was my first attempt at scones but I knew this wasn’t how it was supposed to look. According to the recipe, I was supposed to have a dryer dough that should have enabled me to roll out and cut into the signature triangular shape. Surprised at the outcome, I quickly came up with another solution: drop scones! They’re pretty much just sweetened biscuits anyway, so I picked up an ice cream scoop and set them on the baking sheets. I figure the omission of the dried fruit produced this wet batter.

So, I basically learned that altering recipes a bit too much can lead to different results. While they look more like cookies than scones, they still have that scone taste; fluffy but crumbly and orangey all at the same time. The next time (because there will be a next time) I make scones, I’m determined to get them ‘right.’


Orange Scones adapted from America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts by Ron Douglas’ recipe for “Zuni Cafe’s Scones”

Makes (allegedly) 16 scones

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup of mixed dried currants, barberries, or cranberries (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of cold milk
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 1 tbsp of the sugar. Mix well.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or using your hands, until the butter is the size of small peas.
  4. Add the dried fruit and orange zest. Mix well.
  5. Whisk together the egg, milk, and orange juice. Stir into the dry mixture until everything is well moistened.
  6. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. On a floured surface, pat each ball flat into a 6 or 7 inch circle and roll out until it is 3/4 inch thick. Cut each round into 8 wedges.
  7. Arrange the wedges on the pan without any crowding. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Serve warm.

Orange Vanilla Glaze

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4-1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest


  1. Whisk together the juice, milk, extract, and zest.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar until desired thickness.
  3. Spoon over completely cooled scones.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • The original recipe called for salted butter. Most bakers (like myself) only use unsalted. If using salted butter, cut the salt amount to 1/4 teaspoon.
  • The recipe also claimed I was supposed to get 16 scones. Considering I had an issue with the dough, I scored 11.
  • Keep an eye on your oven! My oven runs hot, so my scones were golden brown on the bottom but pale on top.
  • The glaze, which is not part of the original recipe, is optional. Mine came out thin, but use the larger amount of powdered sugar if you like your glaze a little thicker. 
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